Why You Shouldn't Always Vote For The Candidate You Like Best

Don’t Vote For Your Favorite Candidate — Vote For The Result That Will Protect The Most Americans

July 16, 2020 Updated July 18, 2020

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Biden wasn’t my first choice for the democratic nominee. I was, and at heart still am, a supporter of Elizabeth Warren. I like Biden’s platform though, for the most part, in particular his stances on gun reform, education, and the environment, and I applaud some of the work he has done in the past, including during his time as vice president under the Obama administration. I will vote for him.

But what if I hated Joe Biden? What if I thought there was a better third-party candidate who truly stood for every value that was important to me? Wouldn’t I be morally obligated to vote for the candidate who best represents my beliefs?

Nope. I would still vote for Biden. And so should you. So should every single person who recognizes the Trump presidency for the disaster that it is. Like it or not, we only have two choices in this election. We can argue all we want about how choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil, even though, to be clear, the whole point of “lesser evil voting” or LEV, is to arrive at the outcome that helps the most people. The fact remains, the choices before us are Biden and Trump. That’s all we got. If you choose to vote third-party, especially if you live in a swing state like Florida, New Mexico, or Wisconsin, your vote is irrelevant. You may as well have stayed home and watched Netflix.

Actually, scratch that — in a swing state, your vote is not irrelevant. It’s worse than that. If you sacrifice your vote for a vote that ultimately does not count, you may as well have voted for the other side. For Trump. Because, as much as people want to talk shit about Trump’s tanking ratings, I guarantee his followers will make sure their vote gets counted. They are rabid, they are angry, and they are not prepared to lose to a “dumbocrat.” So take one for the team and fucking vote for Biden even if you don’t like him. Even if you hate him.

As much as I dislike our current voting system and as much as I think we need to change it, at this current moment, it is the system we’re dealing with. Selecting a third-party candidate on voting day does nothing at all to change the system. I’ve heard people argue that the only way to change the system is to simply start behaving differently, and these folks act morally superior when they throw their vote away on a candidate who has zero chance of winning. This mindset is absolutely dead-ass wrong. The way to change the system is by legislation. And passing legislation that affects real change takes the kind of on-the-ground grass-roots activism that makes you miss dinner with your kids and have hard conversations with neighbors standing on their porches in 100-degree heat. Changing the system requires far greater effort than your one little worthless protest vote, so come off your high horse if you’re one of these people.

Voters voting in polling place
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Back in the leadup to the 2016 election, writer Nathan Robinson wrote in an article in Current Affairs that many Americans think “one should always vote in accordance with the candidate that most reflects one’s values, but what matters is not who you vote for, what matters is what happens in the world as a result.” The article was entitled, Why Leftists Should Have No Problem Voting for Hillary Clinton, and Robinson made a lot of critical points that not nearly enough people at that time heeded. And we have paid dearly.

Robinson noted that even if a liberal hated Hillary Clinton, they needed also to consider the relevant distinctions between the two parties. “However corporate-friendly and warlike moderate Democrats may be,” he wrote, “Republicans are almost always more so. Appointments to the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts do actually matter; they can mean the difference between the preservation and the destruction of fundamental rights.”

Back in 2000, Bush won the election against Al Gore because of 500 Florida votes for third-party candidate Ralph Nader. Imagine if we had avoided war in Iraq or had better climate policies, both scenarios almost guaranteed considering the differences between Al Gore, a known climate activist, and Bush, a former Texas oil executive.

Your vote, especially if you live in a swing state, really, really matters. It is the moral duty of those of us who live in swing states to vote for Biden. I would even go so far as to argue that it’s our moral duty to campaign for Biden. This election is critically important. This country simply cannot endure four more years of Trump’s hateful rhetoric and general incompetence. Just about any president in history, Democrat or Republican, would have handled the series of disasters the U.S. has faced far better than Trump. This man shows no empathy for people who are suffering, lies indiscriminately, and intentionally turns Americans against one another. Trump is the real virus.

The choice is not between multiple candidates. You do not have a moral obligation to vote for whoever you think would best serve the country. The choice is between the two who actually have a chance of winning, and your moral obligation is to vote for the candidate who has the highest probability of yielding the best potential outcome.

So who will yield the best outcome for the most Americans? I could outline a lot of the potential positives a Biden presidency could bring us, but we’ve already seen the damage Trump can do in a four-year period. For me, and for everyone else, that should be evidence enough to vote for Biden, whether you’re an ardent supporter or not.